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Kadena Honor Guard: Professional, respectful

Members of the Kadena Air Base Honor Guard prepare to present the U.S., Japanese and Air Force flags during a retirement ceremony on Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 16, 2014. The honor guard is an all-volunteer duty that allows Airmen to show dignity and respect to service members and the nation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman)

Members of the Kadena Air Base Honor Guard prepare to present the U.S., Japanese and Air Force flags during a retirement ceremony on Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 16, 2014. The honor guard is an all-volunteer duty that allows Airmen to show dignity and respect to service members and the nation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman)

Members of the Kadena Air Base Honor Guard present the U.S., Japanese and Air Force flags preceding the Stars Versus Stripes Softball Game on Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 19, 2014. The honor guard is an all-volunteer duty that allows Airmen to show dignity and respect to service members and the nation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman)

Members of the Kadena Air Base Honor Guard present the U.S., Japanese and Air Force flags preceding the Stars Versus Stripes Softball Game on Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 19, 2014. The honor guard is an all-volunteer duty that allows Airmen to show dignity and respect to service members and the nation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- "Forward HARCH!" *chrrrrick, click, click, click, click*

They march out on to the stage with their perfectly shined shoes, silver lining of the ceremonial dress blues running up their body.

On stage with their faces stone-cold, eyes staring straight ahead from underneath the black visor of their blue uniform cap and everyone in attendance is standing at attention; this is the moment they have practiced so hard for.

The Kadena Honor Guard is about more than just ceremonies and dressing sharp, it is about paying respects to fallen Airmen and honoring the flag.

"Honor guard is about showing dignity to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and paying respects to their families," Senior Airman Kristopher Beckwith, a Kadena Air Base honor guardsman said. "We give them respect and honor by performing colors, change of commands, proper display of ceremony, and honoring members' service."

Being in the honor guard allows Airmen to have experiences that they would not likely be able to have anywhere else. These experiences often filled with emotion and grief are what motivates the honor guard members to continue.

"I was on a detail transferring remains of one of our fallen from an HH-60 helicopter crash to a plane to send them home," Beckwith said. "It didn't feel like a duty to me, it was more like I was able to do it; it was a big emotional hit for me, but having to stay stone-faced in front of the family was very humbling."

Staff Sgt. Dwight Richards, a Kadena Air Base honor guardsman, had an emotional experience of his own when he had to present a folded flag to a teary-eyed family.

"I presented a flag to a family and I felt honored because it made me feel like part of his family," said Richards. "I had the last impression of the military on his family. It was extremely emotional and I felt privileged to be the person to give that impression."

Going through these experiences with each other, honor guardsmen tend to have a higher esteem throughout them than in other duties.

"Professionalism, manners and respect are big in the honor guard, and that goes from noncommissioned officer to Airmen all the way up and all the way down," Richards said. "It's hard to find that in most shops."

The honor guard is important to every branch. It is a tough job made for military members who want to take a step above their peers to show dignity and respect to all, not only in ceremonies and events, but making a lasting impression on people around the world and to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country.

"We are showing their families that we appreciate what they did; it's America's way of saying 'you are not forgotten, you will be remembered.'" Senior Airman Shadwick Williams, a Kadena Air Base honor guardsman, said.